COVID: Essential Defence Workers Exempt From 'Ping' Isolation Rules

Exempt groups that are 'pinged' by the NHS Test and Trace app will be able to do daily COVID tests instead of self-isolating.

Essential defence workers have been added to the Government list of 16 sectors able to swap self-isolation for daily testing when they're 'pinged' by the NHS Test and Trace app.

The Government released the list of exempt sectors – including 'essential defence output' – on Thursday in response to what is being called the 'pingdemic', where rising numbers of people are being forced to self-isolate after the app alerts them to contact with a COVID case.

The new exemption will also apply to the emergency services – as well as the food industry, transport, border control, energy, digital infrastructure, waste, the water industry and local government.

It means fully vaccinated workers may not have to isolate if they are told to quarantine after coming into close contact with a positive COVID case, instead being allowed to take daily COVID tests.

Officials will evaluate the roles and workplaces that are likely to meet the criteria for the new rules daily.

It remains unclear exactly who in defence could be able to swap self-isolation for daily testing.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "Defence is continuing to follow all public health advice including self-isolation guidelines.

"Work is ongoing with government to determine how the parameters for vaccinated critical workers to leave isolation may impact service personnel."

Watch: How the Armed Forces have been helping the UK fight coronavirus.

A record 618,903 people were told to self-isolate by the NHS app between 8 and 15 July in England and Wales.

As of 9 July this year, 10,416 UK Armed Forces personnel had received positive test results since the coronavirus outbreak began – a rise of 914 since 25 June.

The latest figures released by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) also show that 283,633 defence personnel have been tested for COVID-19.

This includes 265,200 UK Armed Forces personnel and 18,433 civilian defence personnel.

Across all three services, the British Army has seen the most positive tests among personnel since the start of the pandemic, with 5,800, while the Royal Navy has had 2,921 positive results and the Royal Air Force 1,695.

It was confirmed last week that 54,742 members of the British military are yet to receive a coronavirus vaccine, while 5,200 UK Armed Forces personnel were self-isolating at the start of the month.

Cover image: MOD.